Google’s recent 2021 update for Core Web Vitals is a major twist in SEO focused on the actual user experience. Not that Google has never indicated user experience is required, but the tangible SEO metrics were generally geared towards other factors like content, crawlability/indexability, backlinks and others.
That being said, Google has been pretty outspoken on the need to focus on users first and not search engines.
So, it begs the questions – what are core web vitals and how do I optimize for them?
Core web vitals look at specific user experience signals, such as content load speeds and website interactions. The main Core Web Vitals include Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
The Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is the main factor in measuring load times. This has to do with how fast a website loads for a user. Despite this being a User Focused metric, these LCP load times don’t always correlate with the users load speed but rather the load speeds that Google identifies. When it comes to LCP though, the fundamental items still hold true – keep coding, imagery and more light.
The First Input Delay (FID) is based on how quickly your website becomes interactive. FID looks at delivery of certain functionality, which is most often brought down by 3rd party integrations. 3rd party web integrations can range from a number of different setups and API’s, including popular items like Facebook and Youtube video players, Google Map integrations and more.
The Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is based on items that move around your site. These are oftentimes unexpected popups, buttons moving or mishaps in responsiveness. These are very easily seen as negative items for a user experience because they often result in an unexpected outcome for a user (false clicks and more).
When looking at what Core Web Vitals are, it makes it a bit easier to understand what is needed to optimize your search strategy to capitalize on it. When considering optimizing for Core Web Vitals, remember to keep a user’s experience first and foremost.
One of the biggest tips is to keep your website FAST.
A fast loading and interacting website is the best thing you can do to keep user experience at a plus. Make sure your website is light from the start – don’t upload too large of images, make sure the images are the right files and make sure they are delivered in the right way. Utilizing a content delivery network (CDN) is one of the best ways to keep your speed up across the board. Lightning fast load times are the key!
Make sure your website doesn’t rely on too many 3rd parties.
Making sure your website is dependent on itself is one of the easiest ways to make sure you can control it’s SEO. Even the best 3rd parties have constraints on their time – and the biggest problem here is that there are so many people/requests calling for restraints on their time! Making sure to not rely on 3rd parties and to be selective on the ones you do is the best way to make sure you are compliant!
Making sure your website is easy to interact with is another important measure.
Everything you dislike about using other websites, generally falls in here. Make sure you can use your website seamlessly without having to click around too much or without things not working right. There are a lot of scenarios where accidental clicks end up in a poor user experience. Making sure click-path’s are set and reducing rage clicks are ideal.
The main thing to concern yourself about here is optimizing your website for people to use it. There are still the behind-the-scenes items you’ll have to consider in other parts of your SEO strategy – content planning, backlinking, schema, meta and more!